Thursday, August 21, 2008

more germaine whimsy

and yes, it shall be whimsy. while it makes me a little nervous to just write a non-edited, unplanned piece on this topic, this woman - for it is indeed the week of the greer - i am just going to write my feelings out, and anybody who wants to be picky and neg me and say it's ill-structured, rambling and incoherent, can just bugger off. this is my blog, and i'll be incoherent if i want to.

the last time i did a week on someone, it was david hicks. back when i had hours of university master-avoiding that needed to be done every day. it was a requirement of full-time study, it was in the course guidelines.

i have no such excuses now, dear reader. i am working rather more than i would choose, but enjoying earning money for the first time, properly and regularly, in more years than i care to say. and while i like to say this is the week of germaine, i am aware that i haven't posted all week.
so, to germaine. or more precisely, this article which appeared last saturday in the age.

i've picked a bone with traceeeee before, over peter garrett's suiting up and seeming to forget all his old song lyrics. i'm sure it was her that wrote an article saying something like "leave him alone, he's gonna work it from the inside."

still waiting on that one, trace.

but to the latest. the headline is greer's latest rage more glib than lib.

i know that sub-editors write the headlines, so that's not traceeeee's fault, but the headline does announce the tone that she embraces in her article.

what does glib mean anyway? according to one source, it's any of the following:

smooth and slippery; speaking or spoken in a smooth manner; easily fluent; careless; insincere.

so it's a negative word, it seems, something suspect and something not altogether pleasant. exactly how many see greer it seems.

my reading of the hutchinson article made me think that she had missed the point. while she admits to being fascinated with the greer, and sees herself as benefitting from the social swathe the female eunuch cut through the world at that time, and the resonance since, she then goes on to methodically attempt to undermine germaine, and to cast her as suspect - geographically, politically and feministically.

she talks about the new essay on rage, particularly on aboriginal male rage. hutchison implies that germaine is wrong in thinking, from her lovely, far-away english residence, that indigenous men are self-destructing out of rage, and not grief. hutchison says that germaine was not at the sorry day in canberra, and obviously the broadcast that she watched in her lovely, far-away english residence didn't show all the aboriginal people who attended. hutchison was there, she saw that the indigenous people there were in the background, under trees, not pushing themselves to the front. so germaine must be wrong in thinking the aboriginal men were absent. ah, point scored. i haven't read the rage essay yet, so i don't know exactly what trace is referring to. but it's clear she thinks she scored over germaine about this. i'm also not sure why it's important for people to try to bring this woman down. to try to prove her wrong. and to try and cut her legs out from under her.

but going back to the rage vs grief thing - they aren't separate. they can and do co-exist. it could be argued that you can't have one without the other. what does rage come from, and how does it differ from anger. what are the degrees on the continuum. i need to read the essay to try to understand better. but back to the sorry day, perhaps on that day people showed their grief - grief is far more socially acceptable than rage. but surely the rage is there, in all of them (us?). to show rage at the sorry day would have been to show poor manners, lack of dignity, lack of good-heart. i don't know, but i guess that indigenous people like everyone else would pride themselves on their collective good-heart and their dignity.

hutchison then goes on to talk about the joanna murray-smith thing, where germaine called her "an insane reactionary who held feminism in contempt." again she tries to score points, saying the she knows that murray-smith's family are left-wing inellectuals, her mother taught hutchison english, and her father was "revered in literary intellectual circles." well, being literary, or left-wing doesn't automatically exclude a person from being an insane reactionary and anti-feminist. are all these states of being mutually exclusive? i think not.

but as usual, germaine has made her controversial comment, just a few words, and we don't know the context, she hasn't offered an explanation for it, we don't know what question she was asked to respond to. nothing. but it has to be noted that murray-smith has been criticised by other people for being right-wing and anti-feminist, eg. Alison Croggan, see article.

this is what really gets up people's noses about germaine as well. she doesn't give herself to us. she doesn't lay herself bare. we don't know anything about her. maybe in the past she was very open about her own personal experiences, couched within her writing on certain topics; sexuality, gender issues, menopause, father-daughter relationships. but in the media at large, she gives them nothing about herself. i have no idea if she's ever been married, ever been pregnant, ever had a lesbian tryst, ever been depressed, ever driven drunk, ever taken drugs, ever stalked anyone, ever plagiarised anything.

to me, she has never fallen. she has never done an insipid new idea interview. she doesn't give permission to bigraphers, but will call them parasites. why don't they create something for themselves, she wonders. why don't they get a life?

on the question and answer show last week, germaine was insulted most shockingly by the murdoch paper man. he called her old. someone whispered sotto voce that it was below the belt, perhaps it was carr. germaine threw out a facial reaction but nothing else. she doesn't seem to be affected by people trying to tear her down.
you have to admire the woman for that, if nothing else.
the whole traceeeee article just seemed to me a set-up for tearing greer down. scoring points.
oooh, look at me. i spat on germaine greer!

this was the big, green, slimy slagging at greer from hutchison, who said: "while her observations about the cultural and social crisis in aboriginal australia are astute, her cause-and-effect arguments fail spectacularly."

but where's the detail in your argument, traceeeee? you can't make a statement like that and then just leave your readers hanging. where's your proof?

at the end of the article, hutchison is getting quite bitchy, always a sure sign of someone who is desperately trying to make a point and has nothing of real substance to rely on.

"But it didn't stop Greer flying off in a rage - yes, rage - about [Murray-Smith]"

i don't know that greer has either said rage is a bad thing, or something that she doesn't feel. are you trying to highlight some sort of irony there, hutchison, by referring to geer flying off in a rage?

but finally, traceeeee writes that greer's closing comment "if i was more animal and less pseudo intellectual i'd be a much happier person" was profoundly sad and confronting to the feminist ideals she "trumpeted all those years ago."

sad? did you not see germaine's full cheek with quite a bit of tongue in it? i think she meant it literally, but she was also being funny, she was being self-deprecating and i understand what she meant. i wish i was a little more animal too. i wish i didn't analyse anything and everything, try to understand everything, get affected by everything. i wish i could just let things be, feel things, not have to work so damn hard every single day to exist without imploding.

and how on earth is that confronting - do you mean contradictory - to any feminist ideals? we all are animals, really. why can't i be a person who wants to be more in touch with my primal stuff, less living in my head, but also wants to choose about whether i wear lipstick, remove my body hair, wear what i like. it's all about choices, and choosing to react in a certain way when i realise that some things i can choose, some things i can't. and that's about it.


Ginnie said...

Hi Melba,
I like your post on Greer.. I get so pissed off with Australian mainstream media who are always trying to undermine Greer as a person, rather than debate her arguments. It shows a lack of sophistication and independent thought on their part and its rather embarrassing. I love Greer for her boldness and strength of character, let alone her arguments. Viva la revolution Germaine.

Another Outspoken Female said...

I think the key to decoding TH's article is the neat bookends. It begins with holding Greer up as the voice of 'women can have it all' (and the whoops I forgot to have kids thing may be cutting a lot deeper than the author admits) and ends also with the personal, her own connection with someone that she feels Greer has maligned. For me that put her Greer bashing in context.

Funny journalists (though technically TH isn't one) are held up as sticking to the facts and it is just us sad old bloggers who colour our writing with our own shit.

Personally, am counting down the hours til the Greer fest tomorrow :)

I'm not Craig said...

In a fight between the Greer and the Hutchinson, I wouldn't know who to cheer for. They both seem to be smart women with a capacity for great writing, and they both have a tendency to disappoint but coming out with poorly thought through stuff that is well below what the are capable of.

The Greer is, of course, the far more interesting of the two. On a good day, she's not merely good but awesome. On a bad day, she seems to just say the first thing that comes into her head.

They used to say that Winston Churchill had 10 ideas every day before breakfast, but only one of them was good and he never knew which one. I sometimes wonder if the Greer is not similarly endowed with great intelligence, but not always excellent judgment.

I don't fear the Greer and I certainly don't want to tear her down, I just wish she'd spend more time performing at her best.

Also, I finally sent you an email. I hope the address I used was in some way current.

Melba said...

i think inc you've got it when you say that greer is very intelligent but sometimes opens her mouth without thinking and doesn't always have good judgement.

oh well, i shall see tonight. catch you there aof.

i'm away over the weekend for some geelong footy at kp, some chinese tomorrow night at a sleepy beachside town, and a bit of quality time with the old man and princess.

go cats.

have a good weekend all.

Perseus said...

Great post.

There's not too many of us blokes who love The Greer but I'm unashamedly one of them.